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Two new releases with Beethoven Concertos 2&3 and Sonatas opus 2

This is the second volume in a series of three recordings from AMC with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Bogotá and Joachim Gustafsson conducting, which will be the first recording made in Latin America of all of Beethoven’s concertos for piano and orchestra, including the piano version of the violin concerto. On this recording the wonderful and dramatic Egmont Overture is also included.The 24-year-old Beethoven likely gave the first performance of the sparkling Second Concerto at a concert of Prince Lobkowitz, where his playing “touched everybody”. The young musician had the honour of performing the concerto later that same year with the esteemed Haydn conducting. It is a charming and delightful work, with a beautiful slow movement that must have shown off Beethoven’s noted cantabile style of playing, as well as a light-hearted, comic finale.The cadenza in the first movement is by Niklas Sivelöv.The Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.37 was generally thought to have been composed in 1800, although the year of its composition has recently been revised to 1803. It was first performed on 5 April of that year, with the composer as soloist, in a concert where the Second Symphony and the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives were also premiered. The concerto was published in 1804, and was dedicated to Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia. When the pianist–composer Beethoven moved to Vienna to study with Haydn, he confined his appearances for the first three years to soirees for the aristocracy, until he was satisfied he would make a spectacular debut both as virtuoso pianist and composer. At last, in 1795, he burst into Viennese musical life with his Piano Trios, Op.1 and his three Piano Sonatas, Op.2, the first works he considered worthy of an opus number. His shrewd judgement paid off: the young piano tiger and his compositions made an enormous impression.The Op.2 piano sonatas, the first of 32, are grounded in the Viennese Classical tradition of Mozart and Haydn, but already display Beethoven’s original voice. They move beyond eighteenth-century conventions in their key relationships, unusual modulations, dynamic contrasts, dramatic gestures and quasi-orchestral sweep. The first sonata is sometimes known as the ‘Little Appassionata’ for its key signature and the passionate Sturm und Drang mood of its outer movements. The second sonata, wide-ranging in its emotional content, moves further away from the eighteenth century in its plentiful unusual modulations, and the thirdsonata is virtuosic and grand in scale, unmistakably pointing towardsRomanticism.These three sonatas, which range over the entire keyboard, often with hands widely spaced, seem to strain at the confines of the fortepiano Beethoven owned at the time. Indeed the demands Beethoven placed on keyboard instruments with his 32 piano sonatas led to its substantial development already in his lifetime. At the end of his life Beethoven owned two much more advanced pianos, aBroadwood and a Graf, and in this recording Niklas Sivelöv plays a modern replica of a Graf piano.